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Friday, November 9, 2012

The Offensiveness of Christ

Today I’m breaking free of my format and sharing some thoughts about a topic that just won’t seem to let go of me.

I think it started two weeks ago when I began reading a book that grabbed my spiritual attention with nearly every sentence. What was most fascinating to me was that the book was written by an Arch Bishop of the Catholic church, Fulton J. Sheen. The book is called, Life of Christ. The original published date of the book was back in 1958, it has since then been republished and updated several times. The last time in 2011.
Sheen’s two major concerns were the Communist party and the notion of psychology negating sin and instead putting a pretty label on it along with justifications. This was astounding to me, because we are currently living in a society full of labels and justifications for our sins, and all the while, facing the jeopardy of our great and free country being taken over by a socialist and communist political agenda.

But here’s what I can’t stop thinking about since the election: offensiveness.

Along the lines of Sheen’s concerns, we are also facing a new dilemma as to how to be Christians without being offensive. I’ll admit, I was wondering that myself, and by trying not to be offensive, I began to hide the true gospel. I refused to say what I knew to be true, and instead tip toed around the topics, hoping that my subtlety and vagueness would speak for me without being…offensive.

The night of the election, a gay friend of mine whom I love dearly, began posting all of these “human rights” (a.k.a gay rights) graphics on facebook. She was never one to do this before until after Obama won the election. I was seething. With all the talks we had prior to the election, I thought she was smarter than that. She had professed that Obama was a liar and had done nothing to help our economy. I felt reassured that she would do what’s best for our country, but instead she did what was best…for her! She voted solely on the basis of “gay rights,” and nothing more. She believed that while this President at one time openly confessed that marriage is only for one man and one woman, had now truly changed his mind, and conveniently right before the election. But her vote was a greedy one. One that cost the rest of the country a great deal of upcoming pain, heartache, and eventual economic downfall.

My point in telling you that story is that I kept quiet about my beliefs on gay marriage for her sake. I never openly declared I was against it. It was easier for me to say, “I’m not for it or against it.” I didn’t want to offend her…or Christians for that matter, because so many are now accepting it. Shame on us.

After the sting of another Obama win, I felt defeated and ready to throw in the towel. I didn’t feel there was much left to do anymore but bide our time for our demise. But by the end of the night I was inspired by many devotionals flooding my email, and a video by Glenn Beck, urging us to march forward and start exposing the truth. Now, more than ever before, this country needs that. Truth. We can’t afford to sit back and wonder if we will be offensive by speaking the truth. Their lives, and ours, depends on it.

Then today it dawned on me: the new definition of offensive is telling the truth to those who don’t want to hear it. Speaking the truth about God’s Word—or any other truth, it seems—is utterly offensive to those who don’t want to face themselves or reality.

Like tolerance, being offensive has a whole new meaning. It’s not offensive to belittle or name-call Christians, but it IS offensive when Christians stand against immoral practices. It’s intolerant of me to have my beliefs, but it’s incredibly tolerant of someone else to hate me for them. And WE are not to be offended! We are just supposed to lie down and take the verbal assault! They demand us to!! And sadly we do.

I want to remind you that Paul was incredibly offensive. How so? He BOLDY professed Christ’s truth not only to the church, but to non-believers! He didn’t mix words, and he wasn’t vague in his approach. He scorned the church for their mixed views of adding pagan rituals and Jewish law with the crucifixion of Christ. It was shameful!

And most offensive of all, was Jesus Himself. He continually offended the Pharisees and other “religious” leaders. He always confronted them and NEVER feared the outcome or the offense. Because the very people Christ was offending, were the actual offenders of the law, faith, and righteousness. But they liked living in their lies. They enjoyed the power they received from controlling others with their lies. They did not want to be exposed with the truth.

Sheen says this about Christ’s intolerance:
“…forgiving sinners whom society already condemned, but intolerant of those who sinned and were not found out, He reserved His most scathing outbursts for those who were sinners and denied sin, who were guilty and said they had only a complex. Then it was He Who wept in silence in the presence of human sorrow and an open grave, gave way to unrestrained outbursts of grief as He contemplated the doom and downfall of those who have moral cancer and refuse to use the remedy He purchased…” (pg. xxiv)
Too many churches and Christians want to live in a sunshiny world where all we do is frolic in a field of daisies putting flowers in everyone’s hair. And this was not dictated by Christ or church leaders, this was demanded by the world. They require us to be tolerant of immorality and unrighteousness. They expect us to live in harmony with their beliefs, not ours. And many Christians, unfortunately, have bowed down to their demands. Many Christians have become complacent. And I will tell you right now, their complacency is not Godly. Our job is to be “offensive,” meaning, we are called to tell the truth and stand firm on moral high standings.
“If [Christ] is what He claimed to be, a Savior, a Redeemer, then we have a virile Christ and a leader worth following in these terrible times…We need a Christ today Who will make cords and drive the buyers and sellers from our new temples; Who will blast the unfruitful fig-trees; Who will talk of crosses and sacrifices and Whose voice will be like the voice of the raging sea. But He will not let us pick and choose among His words, discarding the hard ones, and accepting the ones that please our fancy. We need a Christ Who will restore moral indignation, Who will make us hate evil with a passionate intensity, and love goodness to a point where we can drink death like water.” (Life of Christ, pg. 8)
It’s time to be offensive.

32204: Life of Christ Life of Christ

Bishop Fulton Sheen presents a passionate portrait of the God-Man, the teacher, the healer, and most of all, the Savior, whose promise has sustained humanity for two millenia. Here is the story of the greatest man that ever lived.

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